Dialectics of Improvement: Scottish Romanticism, 1786-1831

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This book develops new insight into the idea of progress as improvement as the basis for an approach to literary Romanticism in the Scottish context. With chapter case studies covering poetry, short fiction, drama and the novel, it examines a range of key writers: Robert Burns, James Hogg, Walter Scott, Joanna Baillie and John Galt. Improvement, as the book explores, provided a dominant theme for literary texts in this period, just as it saturated the wider culture.

It was also of real consequence to questions about what literature is and what it can do: a medium of secular belonging, a vehicle of indefinite exchange, an educational tool or a theoretical guide to history.

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